Maria Petkovic, "Overwhelmed by the Love of God"

Did Works of Mercy, and Built Bridges to the Orthodox

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DUBROVNIK, Croatia, JUNE 6, 2003 ( John Paul II presented Sister Maria of Jesus Crucified Petkovic as a soul «overwhelmed by the love of God,» at the Mass for her beatification.

The religious, born in 1892 to a well-to-do family in the nearby Island of Korcula, founded the Franciscan Congregation of the Daughters of Mercy.

«Overwhelmed by the love of God, she chose to consecrate herself to him for ever and to fulfill her aspiration to total devotion to the spiritual and material well-being of those most in need,» the Pope said today. The woman religious died in 1966.

In her work, she assumed the specific task of «spreading knowledge of God’s love through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy,» he said.

«For 40 years she guided her institute with maternal wisdom, opening it to missionary commitment in various countries of Latin America,» the Pope recalled.

The Daughters of Mercy number some 450 women religious in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, Romania, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Peru and Canada. They are dedicated particularly to the care of orphans, abandoned people and the sick.

The congregation fosters unity with other Christians, especially the Orthodox Church. During a visit to Belgrade in 1922 — two years after founding her religious family — to take part in a meeting of the Feminine Cultural Association, Sister Maria recommended commitment in favor of the unity of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, «because Christ is one, and the Church is one.»

Women, she added, can make a decisive contribution to this common spiritual path, as «sisters» and «mothers,» but «above all, as generators of peace.»

The Daughters of Mercy try to build bridges with the Orthodox community in their charitable work in the Serbian region of Voivodina, which borders Hungary.

Arriving in Romania in 2001, the congregation decided to adopt the Byzantine rite of the country’s Catholics. The Daughters of Mercy are establishing a home for Romania’s street children.

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